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Resource

Outsourced project management for tribal capital intensive broadband projects

The opportunity of a generation

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) provides new sources of tribal broadband funding that can assist in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic currently exacerbating the digital divide across Indian Country. The Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will roll out a $1 billion tribal broadband connectivity program that is directed to tribal governments to be used for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability and digital inclusion. Moreover, under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), $31.2 billion of the $1.9 trillion of funding has been set aside for Indian Country alone. Unlike most of the funding provided under the CARES Act, a significant amount of ARP funding appears to be a much better suited vehicle for infrastructure investments, including broadband infrastructure.

Many Indigenous communities of the lower 48 states and Alaska have scarce or no broadband internet connection. Transitioning to virtual governance and business meetings, homeschooling and telehealth during the pandemic has been challenging for tribal communities. Irrespective of the significant funds available, improvement in broadband connectivity can fail to materialize without robust strategic planning and project management.

Over the past 12 years, Baker Tilly’s tribal services practice has supported over $3 billion of energy and infrastructure projects. Leveraging in-house experience, we employ former infrastructure project developers, engineers, architects and finance professionals to support execution of complex projects for our clients.

How Baker Tilly can help

Baker Tilly works with clients throughout the feasibility, design, partnership and implementation phases by using a process based plan out of our existing Project Management Office (PMO). Our approach brings clarity to your project so that you can rest assured that your end goals will be met seamlessly with the help of a trusted advisor. Collaborating with our clients, we provide the following:

Conceptual design
  • Vision for the project
  • Identify current state and improvement needed
  • Development of conceptual design
  • Preliminary budget and timeline estimation
  • Reporting requirements for leadership
  • Identify “gates” or goals the project needs to achieve to continue to move forward
Feasibility
  • What does feasible mean to you?
    – Identifying tribe’s priority project area (i.e. tribal land with no internet, health/educational institution with poor internet connection, economic development)
    – Evaluating options of infrastructure ownership and governance
    – Project will not cost more to operate than savings or revenue it generates, or other annual funding is available to maintain the project for it to “break-even”
    – Project will earn a minimum return/payback
    – Project can be completed by a certain deadline
Detailed design
  • Arrange internet backbone supplier agreements
  • Geo-location of broadband assets and bandwidth appraisal
  • Wireline and wireless options analysis
  • Compile vendor bids and refine numbers
  • Rerun financial analysis
  • Complete/remove any other project fatal flaws from the equation
Project finance
  • Internal formula driven funding from the NTIA 
  • Additional competitive grants
  • Debt financing
Project execution
  • Construction cost monitoring/auditing
  • Construction oversight support
  • Project closeout/compliance documentation support

Learn more about the tribal broadband connectivity program.

Contact us today to discuss your infrastructure project execution needs.

Joel M. Laubenstein
Principal
Tribal telecom tower infrastructure project
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Outsourced project management for tribal capital intensive infrastructure projects